Jerry McGrath, number two rider for trainer Nicky Henderson, has been given the ride of Santini on Saturday at Aintree with the Gold Cup second making his seasonal debut in the Grade Two Many Clouds Chase.
The reason McGrath gets to ride the superstar is because number one rider Nico De Boinville will be at Sandown on Saturday, partnering his beloved Altior in the Grade One Tingle Creek Chase.
The 29 year old rider has been on Santini just once before, back in 2018 at Cheltenham when the horse went on to land the Grade Two Ballymore Classic Novices’ Hurdle.
Santini is said to be spot on for his return at Aintree in the Many Clouds Chase after Henderson pulled him out of the Betfair Chase a few weeks back and the rider believes he has come on massively for his Newbury Gallop.
(Credit ATR) McGrath said: “I won a Grade Two on him at Cheltenham going back a few years ago when he was only just coming on the scene.
“He has been a very good horse since and I’m delighted to be getting the call up to ride him next weekend.
“The assistant trainer Billy Aprahamian sits on him most days as he takes a bit of knowing, but I will probably have a sit on him during the week or pop him over five or 10 fences to get a feel of him again.”
He added: “He has come on a lot for that gallop. He has never been an exuberant horse.
“Even that day when I won on him at Cheltenham I was off the bridle on him a long way out.
“He probably looks like he makes hard work of it but he always has plenty in the locker.”
Although Santini usually comes on a great deal for his first run, with his runs at Cheltenham in the spring normally seeing his best efforts, McGrath believes he is ready for his first outing of the season.
He added: “We need to start him off somewhere this season and we need to get a few more miles on the clock before he goes back to Cheltenham and try go one better in the Gold Cup.
“He is a hard enough horse to place, which is probably a good thing as he is so talented, but it will be a nice starting point for him.”